Team Biden continues to play this hand mystifyingly terribly. Let's set aside Biden's hot-and-cold, incoherent pushback on the Ukraine/conflict of interest story. Let's set aside his perpetual game of catch-up with his further-left rivals on issues like impeachment. Let's set aside his disastrous media strategy, which amounts to avoiding interviews, angrily scolding reporters who ask fair questions, and whining incessantly about coverage. Seriously, how on earth was this no-brainer step not taken before the campaign even started, in anticipation of an obvious attack line about ethics and influence peddling? This now looks like a weak, 'too little, too late,' gambit and an admission of impropriety. Take a bow, Team Joe:
SCOOP: Hunter Biden is stepping down from the board of Chinese-backed private equity firm and promising to forego all foreign work if his father is elected president in 2020 https://t.co/8bwx1vcL3A via @bpolitics— Stephanie Baker (@StephaniBaker) October 13, 2019
Hunter Biden is stepping down from the board of a Chinese-backed private equity company and promising to forego all foreign work if his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is elected president in 2020. After months of keeping a relatively low-profile as President Donald Trump leveled a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations of corruption at him, the younger Biden is publicly vowing to avoid any conflict of interest.
Joe Biden's line in all of this has been that his son's foreign business entanglements were not a problem at all, and did not constitute any conflict of interest -- claims that are undermined by his son abruptly shedding potentially problematic ties under political pressure and "vowing to avoid" conflicts of interest. The move looks reactive and borderline desperate. GOP strategist Josh Holmes hits the right notes about this, with opposing Democratic campaigns likely nodding along, albeit quietly at this point:
Well said @ScottJenningsKY on CNN on Hunter Biden stepping down:— Andrew Clark?? (@AndrewHClark) October 13, 2019
"The idea that this is debunked, if that were true, Hunter Biden wouldn't be taking the steps that he's taking this morning."
Why didn't he do it back in 2014 when Joe was VP? pic.twitter.com/tGJnCUV5QH
Meanwhile, it's becoming clearer why Grandpa Joe's campaign is actively managing expectation for the three Democratic contests before South Carolina, whispering to reporters that they're prepared to go 0-for-3 ahead of the Palmetto State firewall. That's a risky proposition, considering how momentum tends to work, but Biden may have little choice:
CBS News Poll - New Hampshire Democratic primary (change from last):— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 13, 2019
Warren 32 (+5)
Biden 24 (-2)
Sanders 17 (-8)
Same story as the rest of the Democratic polls at the moment - Warren climbing up as Biden slides and Bernie slowly fades away. pic.twitter.com/eQzbnovCkR
A three-way tie in Iowa isn't terrible, but look at those trajectories. Factor in Warren's superior ground game in the Hawkeye State, and a Biden loss there is easy to envision. He's also clearly trailing now in New Hampshire, and not just in the fresh CBS numbers. Yes, South Carolina is still looking rock solid, but see my earlier point about momentum and perceptions -- speaking of which, Biden's "electability" advantage is on the wane (though he's still well ahead on that metric), another red flag for him. I'll leave you with my analysis of why the Biden campaign has been so flat-footed and inadequate throughout this ordeal. In short, it's the candidate:
Sleepy Joe can't defend himself so he resorts to threatening the media!— Trump War Room (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TrumpWarRoom) October 10, 2019
"Joe Biden is not capable as a candidate at this point to make the case himself...if they were confident and had a nimble candidate he would be out there taking care of this and taking it head on himself." pic.twitter.com/mjJbxCOzuO